Cannabis is a very complex plant that contains over 400 different cannabinoids, and it’s scientifically proven to be effective in treating numerous conditions.
Despite the fact that cannabis has been shown to have beneficial effects on people suffering from neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in the UK and many other countries around the world.
The History of Cannabis
There are numerous evidences that prove that cannabis has been used in various historical times as an alternative to potentially dangerous drugs. Most importantly, cannabis has been used in traditional healing practices by both North and South American indigenous tribes for thousands of years.
In the 16th century, cannabis was banned in several European countries, including France and Italy. Cannabis use in the Western World skyrocketed during the 1960s, especially during the hippie era.
Cannabis was nicknamed as “Mary Jane” or “weed”, and it was believed to be a source of mind-altering and psilocybin-rich “magic”.
Why do people use cannabis?
1. To calm a racing mind. Cannabis was historically used by many ancient societies, and it was included in traditional healing systems because of its calming effects. Today, it’s more commonly used as an anti-anxiety or stress-reducer and as a mood-enhancing, sleep-inducing relaxant.
One of the reasons why cannabis has become so popular as an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant is because it delivers specific chemicals called cannabinoids, which are more potent and slower acting than traditional anxiety medications.
2. To reduce inflammation. By reducing inflammation, cannabis can help to treat some types of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
What are the potential Medical Benefits of Cannabis?
Cannabis works by having a number of different cannabinoids and terpenes. The cannabinoid known as THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, affects a chemical in our brain that leads to feelings of euphoria and feeling high, while the other cannabinoid known as CBD, or Cannabidiol, affects another chemical in our brain that blocks the psychoactive side effects of THC.
CBD is one of the most beneficial properties found in the cannabis plant, and it’s been scientifically proven to relieve pain, anxiety and depression in a number of different studies.
Cannabis contains a wide range of cannabinoids, and in many ways it has the capacity to provide health benefits that go beyond cannabis itself. What’s more, this plant also contains terpenes, chemical compounds that increase the euphoric feeling of THC.
Medicinal Use of Cannabis for Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease and Epilepsy
Studies are currently underway to develop cannabinoid-based medicine for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One recent study looked at the effects of CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, and it found that it lowered levels of amyloid plaque and other toxic proteins, while also increasing cell-growth.
Researchers are now working with cannabinoids like CBD and THC to find an effective treatment. Another study, funded by GW Pharma, an American clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops cannabis-based drugs for a range of illnesses, used cannabis compounds to treat brain inflammation and neuro-degeneration in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease.
Medicinal Use of Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis, Spasticity, and ALS
A number of studies have demonstrated cannabis’ effectiveness in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), spasticity (caused by multiple sclerosis), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
A 2013 clinical trial by Imperial College London showed that medical cannabis reduces spasticity, improves pain relief for people with MS, and allows them to walk on a treadmill for longer periods of time.
The trials were halted in early 2015 after two patients died from infections they acquired after being injected with cannabis oil. In 2016, the National Health Service in England made it more difficult to get medicinal cannabis.
Medicinal Uses for Cancer Patients and Other Diseases
Scientific evidence indicates that cannabis can have a positive effect on the brain and relieve nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Medical professionals still recommend against prescribing medical cannabis to cancer patients, as there is no empirical evidence to prove that it works for them.
A study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine suggests that the psychoactive effects of cannabis can actually cause more harm than good in terminally ill cancer patients. Research has also found that the use of cannabis by cancer patients can make their condition worse.
A study by the World Health Organization determined that there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for cancer.
A simple answer to what is cannabis? When used in accordance with the states and regulations, cannabis is a lot more than being used for recreational purposes. Many states, and countries around the world are decriminalizing its use by adults and even by minors in recreational activities.
Although, cannabis, which includes various plant parts, including cannabis, is only considered as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the plant itself actually has an impressive list of medicinal properties.